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Oscars Revamp Animation Nomination Process

The best animated feature Oscar nominees will now be chosen not by just L.A.-based volunteers attending Sunday screenings, but by a much larger group thanks to newly granted permission to view them on screeners.

The Academy Awards Statue and Sign - H 2012
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will soon announce changes to the way it picks its best animated feature and shorts nominees for the Oscars, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The move will make it easier for more of its 6,000 or so members to participate in the decision-making process, increasing the number of people who actually determine the nominees.

Historically, a relatively small number of Los Angeles-based volunteers had chosen the nominees. Half were members of the Short Films and Animated Feature branch, and half were members of one the Academy's other branches. Nobody could be affiliated with any of the movies in contention and all had to attend L.A. screenings of the eligible films over several Sundays starting in November. This group is known as the Animated Feature Film Award Screening Committee.

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The new rule change will enable Academy members who are based outside of the L.A. area to serve on the Screening Committee as well by letting them watch the eligible films on DVD or Blu-Ray screeners instead.

This decision is consistent with other recent Academy efforts to find ways to include more members in more voting decisions. For instance, the Academy recently began providing screeners of all the nominated documentary features, animated shorts, documentary shorts and live-action shorts every member of the Academy. And it recently announced plans to send all the nominated foreign language films to its membership.

The entire Short Films and Feature Animation branch -- which is currently composed of roughly 400 members and chaired by Jon Bloom, who also serves as one of its reps on the Board of Governors, along with Disney-Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter and Bill Kroyer -- still does not get to determine its corresponding nominees, though, unlike most of the Academy's other branches. This is apparently because some fear that branch members might just vote in blocks on behalf of their respective studios' contenders -- as the entire Academy once did when actors, producers, directors, writers, execs and publicity people were under contract to specific studios -- which would give an unfair advantage to studios that are heavily represented (i.e. Disney-Pixar, etc.) over studios that are not (i.e. GKIDS). The Annie Awards are often criticized for this sort of thing.

The Academy was not available for comment.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg